10303 NE 10th St
Bellevue WA 98004
Fairly Ordinary Indian Cuisine, Not More or Less
By: Steve G
One of the first Indian restaurants in the downtown Bellevue area, Moghul Palace is hidden away a block north of Bellevue Square. With a motto "to offer the finest cuisine of Indian food and curry," it's not suprising that it seems to have withstood the test of time since opening its doors in 1994. Moghul Palace may not be the flashiest Indian restaurant in Bellevue, but it holds its own as a decent spot for Indian food.
Despite new upstarts that have recently appeared like Chutney's, Moghul Palace has stayed consistent with its philosophy of flavor rather than heat to dictate its food. This philosophy is one of the first things we noticed as we dined at Moghul Palace.
Dishes such as the chicken curry and the lamb meatballs lack any inkling of spice, but they each have a remarkable taste that isn't found in similar dishes at most Indian restaurants. Even if the lack of spice is to accommodate a Western palate, it works to define a niche for Moghul Palace as a unique Indian destination.
As unique as the food is, the same can't be said of Moghul's interior. 'Lackluster' is my best way of describing the dcor. It's rather oppressive inside due to the spare surrounding, dim lighting, and tight spacing.
Each table is draped with a long tablecloth covered with a thick sheet of glass on top. Even the buffet section is a little more cramped and smaller than most you'll find at other places such as Spice Route or Mayuuri.
Nevertheless, the quality of their food is quite good. Moghul Palace is very convenient for those in the Bellevue area at only about a 5 to 10 minute walk from Lincoln and Bellevue Square. Not only that, but it lives up to its reputation for fantastic service. Water glasses are always topped off before you even have a chance to ask, and dirty plates are cleared off in clockwork fashion.
While it isn't the most luxurious place to dine in, Moghul Palace is a nice spot for those looking for a gentle introduction to some Indian cuisine without any of the fiery heat normally associated with it.
Our somewhat spontaneous visit to Moghul Palace came on the heel of our string of visits to numerous other Indian eateries. With all the flavors, spices, and variety of the previous restaurant still fresh in our minds, we tackled Moghul's buffet with earnest vigor. When we reached the buffet, we were slightly disappointed to find that it was on the small side compared to many other neighborhood restaurants.
The buffet highlights included their version of the palak paneer, which featured fresher and less bitter minced spinach than that at most other Indian restaurants. Also the cheese had a noticeably stronger and creamier flavor and a texture that was considerably firmer, almost like extra firm tofu.
Another tasty dish was the lamb/beef meatball, which is smothered in a creamy and buttery tomato-based sauce. Rich and sultry, the sauce stole the show. Although the meatballs only had the slightest hint of lamb, they were notably tender and moist. I suppose after having sampled the lamb meatballs at Taj Palace, there's just no going back.
Their standard chicken curry was more on the ordinary side and featured a thin, oily base. However, it did have a pleasantly smoky aftertaste and had plump chunks of chicken which were unfortunately very, very mildly spiced.
Lastly, I honestly feel that their Tandoori chicken needs to be revamped; though the yogurt based marinade was visible to the eye, it was invisible to the tongue and the chicken itself was stringy and a bit on the scrawny side.
After tasting Indian food at many other Eastside spots, we finally checked out one of the oldest Indian restaurants. Much like Bryan, I too was a little disappointed by most of the food on the buffet.
Unlike Bryan, I didn't care too much for the Saag paneer; the mushy spinach was soaked in the curry and had a strange aftertaste that didn't agree with me. I found myself constantly trying to cleanse my palette because the flavor was just too much for me to handle.
Out of all of the dishes I had, the lamb meatball curry was by far my favorite dish. Though lacking in spice, the creamy curry went down surprisingly smooth and the handmade lamb meatballs were little clumps of joy that accented the curry with sprinkles of gamey taste.
Overall, Moghul Palace didn't do much to stand out among the other Indian restaurants. Those looking for some pungent spices and intense flavors are better off heading to another spot because Moghul's food is very tame. If you haven't had much experience with Indian food, it's a great place to ease yourself into the cuisine.
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